Monday, September 08, 2008

Wherein Alison Admits She Was Wrong (Sortof)


I received an email disputing this post, pointing out that if I read the entire budget for Alaska, I would have seen that what really happened was that the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy was split off from the Special Education Services Agency and given it's own line item and when this is factored back into the equation funding for special education actually increased under Sarah Palin by 11.4%.

The question I have is what is the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy? According to the 2007 budget, "This instructional program is operated in Anchorage with student enrollees from across the state. Students work on challenging academic programs in a “boot camp” environment. Completing high school and building career goals and skills are the goals." It doesn't appear, when reading the budget, that the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy is a program for children with disabilities. I have been trying to find out more information about what this program is. From what I can glean from what is available on the internet (not much) the program takes students aged 16-18 years old who are dropping out or expelled from normal schooling and gives them a second chance in a military school environment. That doesn't sound like it is helping children with special needs. Until we know exactly what the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy is, we won't have a clear picture of the changes to funding.

However, for the sake of comparing apples to apples, I wanted to compare the 2007 budget allocation minus the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy with the 2008 and 2009 budgets (which do not include the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy in their budgets.) However, I couldn't determine how to go about doing this as I wasn't sure how the budget allocations for each individual program factored into the total component budget allocation (I thought it would be simple, but alas, it was not at least not for me, but perhaps my math was off). I have included links to the budgets so if someone would like to check my numbers and/or proceed with my original plan, you can (let me know what you find). As it stands, I will compare funding for each line item.

2007

Special Education Service Agency (SESA) - This agency is governed by the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education. It provides outreach services to school districts that serve low incidence severely disabled students. AS 14.30.600-660 $2,072.3

Providence Heights School - This program is operated by the Anchorage School District. Students enrolled in this program are patients of the Alaska Psychiatric Hospital (APH). The educational program is an important part of these students' treatment. 4 AAC 33.060 $145.0

Alaska School for the Deaf - The instructional program is currently operated by the Anchorage School District. The district receives foundation funds for the students enrolled; $319.0.
The Department of Education & Early Development provides funding for the residential program through a Reimbursable Services Agreement with the Department of Health and Social Services; $637.4. Students from outside Anchorage are housed in group and foster homes while they are
attending school. 4 AAC 33.070

2008

Special Education Service Agency (SESA) - This agency is governed by the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education. It provides outreach services to school districts that serve low incidence severely disabled students. AS 14.30.600-660 $2,054.6

Providence Heights School - This program is operated by the Anchorage School District. Students enrolled in this program are patients of the Alaska Psychiatric Hospital (APH). The educational program is an important part of these students' treatment. 4 AAC 33.060 $145.0

Alaska School for the Deaf - The instructional program is currently operated by the Anchorage School District. The district receives foundation funds for the students enrolled; $319.0. The Department of Education & Early Development provides funding for the residential program through a Reimbursable Services Agreement with the Department of Health and Social Services; $637.4. Students from outside Anchorage are housed in group and foster homes while they are
attending school. 4 AAC 33.070


2009

Special Education Service Agency (SESA) - This agency is governed by the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education. It provides outreach services to school districts that serve low incidence severely disabled students. AS 14.30.600-660 $2,054.6 - PLACE HOLDER

Providence Heights School - This program is operated by the Anchorage School District. Students enrolled in this program are patients of the Alaska Psychiatric Hospital (APH). The educational program is an important part of these students' treatment. 4 AAC 33.060 $145.0

Alaska School for the Deaf - The instructional program is currently operated by the Anchorage School District. The district receives foundation funds for the students enrolled; $319.0. The Department of Education & Early Development provides funding for the residential program through a Reimbursable Services Agreement with the Department of Health and Social Services; $637.4. Students from outside Anchorage are housed in group and foster homes while they are
attending school. 4 AAC 33.070

So, as you can see, funding for the Special Education Service Education went down slightly under Sarah Palin, but funding for all other special needs programs remained the same, with no increases for inflation. So I was wrong when I said that she slashed special needs programs by 60%--she didn't slash it, she just held it steady (though the rest of Alaska's budget did increase during that period as did inflation, and Alaska has benefited from oil profits, so we could argue that keeping the allocations identical over a three year period actually represents a decrease--I just don't have the energy or the math skills to tell you what this means in actual percentages). So, until someone can show me how the Alaska Youth Challenge Academy helps special needs children, I don't see how anyone can suggest Sarah Palin has increased the budget for special needs education. And, in my opinion, simply holding steady doesn't exactly look like friendship or advocacy.

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